The 15 Best Movies of 2016

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Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) in LA LA LAND. Photo credit: Dale Robinette

6. La La Land

La La Land is the reason people go to the movies. After an aggressive, and divisive debut with 2014’s Whiplash, director Damien Chazelle went as far from where he started as one gets. Hollywood’s always been in love with itself (Best Picture Winner The Artist, for example) and this year saw a similar Old Hollywood throwback with the Coen brothers’ Hail, Caesar. Chazelle commits to the format wholeheartedly in his CinemaScope tale of two lovers (Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone) who make a go of a relationship in a Technicolor Los Angeles.

La La Land’s soundtrack and score by Justin Hurwitz sets the tone with grand, pop-inflected hits like “Another Day of Sun” and “Someone in the Crowd.” But what works best is the director’s desire to hearken back to musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and Top Hat. Gosling and Stone break into song and dance with little rhyme or reason, all with an eye towards achieving their individual dreams. Oftentimes you’ll get a film that has the feeling of an old-school musical, but La La Land IS an old-school musical and is all the better for it. You’ll be eager to get another day of sun with the film’s colorful characters wrapped up in a Los Angeles that’s never looked more fantastical (and faker, in a good way).

Next: Christine